Following a heinous break-in at Lincoln Fine Wines early on Saturday morning, the store’s owner, Nazmul Haque, feels like he has little choice but to bolster security at his sister store, Haque’s Bodega, on 4th Street, Santa Monica.

At approximately 12:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, security cameras inside the store located at 727 Lincoln Blvd recorded an unidentified individual wearing a mask, a dark hoodie and red-billed baseball cap carefully selecting and stealing more than 600 bottles of fine wines worth over $700,000.

According to Haque, this individual climbed on top of storage containers left outside the building’s rear to reach the roof. A 5-by-3 ft hole was cut through the ceiling directly into the environmentally controlled wine “cellar” and the thief lowered himself down with a rope.

“We have cameras all around the interior, many cameras,” says Haque. “I’m a simple businessman, I do not think like a criminal. I would never have imagined someone would climb down through the roof.”

In addition to a large number of cameras, sensors are also placed all around the inside of the store, after all Haque stocks bottles of champagne and wine each worth tens of thousands of dollars. However, the thief spent most of their time inside the cellar where there are no sensors, consequently the alarm didn’t sound until over three hours later, when they eventually entered the main store floor space. 

“There are cameras outside, around the back, of course, but they moved those so they were pointing in a different direction and put socks over the other cameras,” ​​Haque says. 

Feroz Ahmed, manager of Haque’s Bodega, said that additional security had absolutely been discussed since the incident and changes would be made, but he wasn’t 100 percent sure exactly what they’d be just yet. 

Haque is extremely proud of his collection of fine wines and says some of the bottles taken are irreplaceable. “It’s taken me decades to build this collection,” he says, adding that he’s particularly keen to have his collection remain on display and not locked behind yet another glass door. And it’s true, you can happily (and very carefully) hold a bottle of Dom Pérignon that costs more than most of us earn in a month and daydream for a little while at least. As such, he’s reluctant to make any significant changes that might take away from the eye-opening experience that is to saunter around his impressive store and that extends to his Bodega on Fourth Street as well. 

Haque believes that the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for and he suspects that several people were involved in this meticulously planned burglary. He is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the culprits and he’s providing a list of the stolen items to auction houses and wine stores in the area in case an attempt is made to sell something.

Anyone with information is encouraged to reach out to the Los Angeles Police Department at 877-527-3247.

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.